|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1 These words recommend family love and peace, as needful for the comfort of human life. 2. The wise servant is more deserving, and more likely to appear one of the family, than a profligate son. 3. God tries the heart by affliction. He thus has often shown the sin remaining in the heart of the believer.
Verse 1. - (Comp, Proverbs 15:16, 17; Proverbs 16:8.) Better (sweeter) is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith. Dry bread was soaked in wine or water before it was eaten. Thus Boaz bid Ruth "dip her morsel in the vinegar" (Ruth 2:14); thus Jesus gave the sop to Judas when he had dipped it (John 13:26). The Septuagint is pleonastic, "Better is a morsel with joy in peace." Aben Ezra connects this verse with the last two of ch. 16, confining the application to the patient man; but the sentence seems rather to be independent and general. Than an house full of sacrifices with strife. Of the thank or peace offerings part only was burnt upon the altar, the rest was eaten by the offerer and his family; and as the victims were always the choicest animals, "a house full of sacrifices" would contain the materials for sumptuous feasting (see on Proverbs 7:4). The joyous family festival often degenerated into excess, which naturally led to quarrels and strife (see 1 Samuel 1:5, 6, 13; 1 Samuel 2:13, etc.). So the agapae of the early Church were desecrated by licence and selfishness (1 Corinthians 11:20, etc.). Septuagint, "than a house full of many good things and unrighteous victims with contention." With this verse compare the Spanish proverb, "Mas vale un pedazo de pan con amor, que gallinas con dolor."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith,.... A small quantity of bread; a broken piece of bread, as the word (w) signifies; which has been long broken off, and become "dry" (x); a dry crust of bread; old bread, as the Arabic version; an old, mouldy, dry piece of bread: and the word used has the signification of destruction in it: bread that has lost its taste and virtue; or, however, a mere piece of bread is meant, without anything to eat with it, as Gersom, butter, cheese, or flesh: this, with quietness and peace among those that partake of it, peace in the family, in a man's own mind, especially if he has the peace of God, which passeth all understanding; this is better
than a house full of sacrifices with strife; than a house ever so well furnished with good cheer, or a table ever so richly spread; or where there is plenty of slain beasts for food, or for sacrifice, which were usually the best, and part of which the people had to eat, and at which times feasts used to be made; but the meanest food, with tranquillity and contentment, is preferable to the richest entertainment where there is nothing but strife and contention among the guests; for, where that is, there is confusion and every evil work: peace and joy in the Holy Ghost are better than meats and drinks. Mr. Dod used to say,
"brown bread and the Gospel are good fare;''
see Proverbs 15:17.
(w) "frustrum", a "fregit", Gejerus. (x) "siccum frustum panis", Tigurine version; "cibi sicci" Junius & Tremellius; "brucella sicca", V. L. Mercerus, Piscator; "buccea sicca", Cocceuis; "frustum sicci, sc. cibi", Michaelis, "frustum siccae buccellae, Schultens, so Ben Melech.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1. sacrifices—or, "feasts" made with part of them (compare Pr 7:14; Le 2:3; 7:31).
strife—its product, or attendant.
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